Hello everyone and welcome to this Ethics Alert which will discuss the recent disciplinary complaint against a North Carolina lawyer who is alleged to have made disparaging comments about lawyers and judges in court pleadings including, inter alia, accusing judges of “overwhelming incompetence and ignorance, as well as asinine and unprofessional behavior” and “acting like mentally challenged cheerleaders”.
The disciplinary case is North Carolina State Bar v. Michael J. Anderson, 15-DHA-47 and the disciplinary Complaint is here: http://www.ncbar.com/discipline/DHC_File_DHC_file_filename_bv.asp?DHC_file_doc=889
The disciplinary complaint contains three counts/claims, including one count with allegations regarding the lawyer’s failure to respond to a grievance against him and making false statements, a second with allegations regarding his handling his trust account, and a third with allegations regarding his pleadings in a workers’ compensation case.
With regard to the workers’ compensation matter, the lawyer filed a civil complaint on behalf of a client, responded to a motion to dismiss and handled an appeal to the state court of appeals. He is alleged to have made a number of disparaging statements in his pleadings, including accusing the court of “overwhelming incompetence and ignorance… I felt just as I imagine I would have over a century ago arguing to said court that slavery was bad labor relations policy… [the court showed] a stubborn arrogance and ignorance…[a judge] literally threw a temper tantrum…As I felt like I was attempting to teach physics to a class of unruly third graders.”
In another pleading, the lawyer allegedly stated: “the lack of intellectual functioning and overt partiality of this panel…being readily apparent but, acting like mentally challenged cheerleaders, knowing they wanted to motivate their team to victory, but not sure how to accomplish the goal… [the judge] was assuming the role of ‘house negro’ for purposes of this matter…Sounding more like ‘Beaver Cleaver’ than any person has a right to…”
In another pleading: the lawyer allegedly stated “the instant panel will glad [sic] play thee [sic] blind mice and [Judge] will serve the historical role played by Monica Lewinsky for President Clinton for the current governor of North Carolina… if these judges are intent upon making the [court] a literal ‘whippin boy’ for special interests, they are welcome to kiss my red white and blue American male ass.”
Bottom line: If the allegations are true, this case involves a lawyer who had great difficulty with objectivity and civility in the language of his pleadings, to say the least. We all know that lawyers are under constant stress and we may be unhappy with judges’ decisions and this is a classic example of how not to handle it. There is no place for such language and disparaging statements in court documents, or otherwise. Be careful out there. As always, if you have any questions about this Ethics Alert or need assistance, analysis, and guidance regarding these or any other ethics, risk management, or other issues, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Joseph A. Corsmeier, Esquire Law Office of Joseph A. Corsmeier, P.A. 2454 McMullen Booth Road, Suite 431 Clearwater, Florida 33759 Office (727) 799-1688 Fax (727) 799-1670 [email protected] www.jac-law.com